UTI or STI? Know the difference

Did you know that Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) share symptoms similar to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and are misdiagnosed more often than you may think? Here’s how to tell if it’s a UTI or STI and what’s the difference 

What is Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system, which includes your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. It’s very common in women and there are many causes of UTIs, which you can read about. Symptoms include:

More frequent peeing than usual

Odourless vaginal discharge

Burning sensation while peeing

Cloudy urine, although infection is still possible if urine is clear

Blood in your pee

Slight pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, I advise you to visit your healthcare provider. UTIs are easily treatable with prescribed antibiotics.

Protecting yourself from a UTI

Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from UTIs:

Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet

Pee immediately after having sex

Drink plenty of water so that fluid is always moving through your system

What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections generally transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner. There many types of STI, with common symptoms such as:

Pain during intercourse

Lumps in the groin


Abnormal discharge from your vagina or penis

Genital blisters or rash

Heavier, more painful periods or bleeding outside your normal periods

STIs may require different treatments depending on the infection. If you’re experiencing STI symptoms, visit your nearest clinic as soon as possible for an STI screening.

You can protect yourself from STIs by always using a condom whenever you engage in sexual intercourse and going for regular STI screening. If possible, I encourage you to screen with your partner.

UTIs and STIs have many of the same symptoms and sex can be involved in getting either. This is why it’s important to know the difference and see a healthcare provider if you’re not sure.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).